Special Olympics

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This past weekend I watched the opening ceremonies of the International Special Olympics. The country of Austria hosted this event for the second time, the first time being in 1993 when it was held for the first time outside the United States.
It was an impressive ceremony and made you so thankful that there are now 105 countries in the world who recognize the importance of acknowledging those children in their country who are intellectually disabled and to educate them and encourage those who wish to do so, to train in such sports as skiing, hockey speed skating or snowshoeing.

Special Olympics was an idea of Eunice Kennedy Shriver in the early 1960s. She grew up with a sister who was intellectually disabled, yet they swam, sailed, skied and played football together. You can see how her idea came about. The first International Special Olympic Games were held in 1969 in Chicago.

This year, this event was represented by 2,700 folks from 105 countries, along with 1,000 coaches and heaven only knows how many family members.

To those of us in the Atlanta area, it is interesting to note that Coca Cola remains as a Special Olympics Founding Partner.

Where am I going with all of this?

Yes, there are untold things going on in the world today. Wars, skirmishes, bombings, beheadings, slaughter of untold men, women and children. The United States is trying to ban people from certain countries from coming here, illegal residents who have lived here from Mexico for decades are scared their families will be broken up and returned to that country. Anti-semitism is being felt here and in Europe with gravestones being tossed around, and disparate people declaring those who dress different or have complicated weird sounding names must be up to no good. Paris seems to have guys show up at its airport from time to time making so much trouble they always end up getting killed.

I find it refreshing to know that one group of folks in the world, who for years were put in sanitariums, locked in back rooms forever and otherwise discriminated against, are finally treated to their full potential.
I just wish those in the world who want to discriminate, destroy thousand year old artifacts, decimate fellow humans or otherwise try to tell God he didn’t create the world correctly, would have their own “Road to Damascus”.

By the by – Eunice Shriver died in 2009 but her daughter, Mariaw Shriver, has long carried on her mother’s work. I saw her marching in with the participants during the Special Olympic ceremony last weekend.